Here it comes. The home stretch. The last 2 months of the school year.
Right before senior year of college, I wanted to write a thesis on teacher issues- how to best support teachers, raise teacher retention, and keep teachers in the profession. I remember reading studies by Richard Ingersoll about teacher retention, and I remember wanting to make my undergrad thesis useful for that purpose. I ended up doing a thesis on teacher organizing in NYC. As a student teacher at the time, I was working on one lesson a day or a week, and I really didn’t know what teaching was going to be like. I thought it would be much more of a breeze than it is.
And then I taught. Making 40+ lessons a week was much more than I thought it’d ever be. I didn’t expect the long hours, the hours outside of teaching I’d have to do in order to just get my job right. I didn’t expect the amount of paperwork, and I certainly didn’t feel how taxing it would be to take on 50+ mind tasks every moment- whether B was focusing on his work and O was using his sensory items. Whether N had used the bathroom today and I changed diapers. I didn’t think my job would be a 24/7 job, where I carried the physical and emotional stresses of work into my personal life. Heck, I didn’t really know what a personal life would look like, because I had plenty of one in college, and I didn’t know how much work would affect me and my ability to have a personal life.
And now I’m here. It’s hard to explain to everyday people exactly why I fight so hard for teacher rights, that we’re so easily overworked and not compensated for it, that we’re attacked every day. It’s hard to understand when you’re not a teacher, I get it. But it’s a hard job, teaching.
But it’s not something you know until you get into the profession. You can either tough it out and do the job, or you can complain about it. Or, as I have started to do, complain about it with others and organize on how to make it better.
I’m not great at that yet. I want to get better at working with people on this. The only people around who really understand this life are the teachers around you. And they get you through the teaching profession. Thank goodness for the veterans around me who remind me to see the forest from the trees.
And with everything we do, a Spring Break is necessary. As much as students look forward to it, the teachers do, too. We need said break.
And now I’m anxious, because now it’s about to get back to the grind of lesson plans, but not just lesson plans, but paperwork, IEPs, observations, evaluations, the politics of a public school system, judgment from everywhere.
At the end of my school day I just don’t want to talk to anyone, period. Today, I can talk to anyone. I’m back to the reasons why I wanted to teach in the first place. I want to talk to people, and I want to teach. Everything else in the teaching profession clouds that.
And Spring Break has cleared that cloud. And I’m seeing the forest from the trees today. Hoping this lasts the last two months of school.